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English Detective #56,What Columbus Started: the Columbian Exchange: Oct. 6,2015
October 06, 2015

What Columbus Started: the Columbian Exchange: Oct. 6, 2015

The current investigation:

Columbus didn’t just bring European civilization to the western hemisphere. He and his successors brought new foods, animals, and germs along with European ideas, weapons, and domination. They also brought valuable new foods back to Europe. The biological exchange has arguably had as profound effects on both hemispheres as the political/cultural one-- and is worth remembering as Columbus Day comes again.

There are some fascinating resources available on the Columbian exchange. Unfortunately, many are too long and difficult for English learners. This newsletter will look at ways to use parts of them to get students thinking and talking.


I have put my favorites into a new lesson plan on EnglishHints.

It includes a listening practice using excerpts from a fascinating, but long and difficult, article on globalization from the Wall Street Journal as well as a Simple English Wikipedia article and a gap-fill on the history of potatoes that lets students practice the present and past perfect tenses.

You could of course use these resources in other ways, possibly including more higher-order thinking skills than the EnglishHints lesson does.

If you have junior high or high school students with fairly good English skills, you might also be interested in Learn North Carolina’s lesson(s) on the Columbian Exchange , which looks considerably more demanding than the EnglishHints’s lesson. It might be best only for English learners who are quite fluent or well-read.

That lesson links to another with more on the devastating diseases Europeans brought to the Americas, and why they caused so much more harm than American diseases did to the Old World.

Any of these resources will help your students understand that what we remember on Columbus Day (or Dia de la Raza) was a “whole new world” for BOTH hemispheres.

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